My name is James Kanka and these are my posts, videos, and stills.

Ernest Alexander Lookbook

New Denim

Every year my mom gets me some nice new denim for Christmas this year I opted for a pair of Raw Selvedge denim because most of my jeans develop holes way too early and I like the idea of not washing them. :)

I ended up getting some APC’s at Nordstrom but I also have my eye on some Imogene + Willies that are made here in Nashville. They’ve got a great creation story and a great online presence. They have a tumblr called “Love Fades” that pairs owners with their jean fades.

Once I break my APC’s in I might have to try on a Barton Rigid from Imogene + Willies, shown below.

US Mail System Needs To Think Differently

The USPS is dying and in need of a complete restructure, less and less people are using the postal service and there is no indication that we will start using it more, everything points to less reliance. It’s also incredibly wasteful, all the junk mail we get, both in paper, sorting, and transportation costs. Yet we’re still trying to make it work.

First, a majority of mail door to door delivery must completely go, be reduced, or be charged a premium. It’s much more efficient to group mail boxes together–it requires less time, less man power, and less transportation costs. The biggest problem is that it is less convenient for customers. Well maybe.

Things have changed, a lot less important information comes to us through the mail and a lot more junk and ads, which are becoming more important to keep USPS afloat. How often do you receive something in the mail that you actually need or want? Then, how often do you actually need the physical contents of the letter? Could you just have easily gotten the information from an email or a scan of the letter? For most people they only get something that matches that criteria once a week and even then it’s not time sensitive.

Imagine being able to use an app to remotely view all the mail you’ve received or that’s on its way and pick what gets thrown away, saved for pick up, and even auto scanned to read from your personal computer–all before going to pick it up. There would be no more guessing to what is waiting for you at the mail box, no more junk mail in your home trash, and a much more efficient mail system. You could potentially even stop mail being sent to you before it leaves the originating station, substantially saving transportation costs. A smart system could also make more efficient use of mail boxes, let the app know where you want to pick up and they could have your mail waiting there in a temporary mailbox for you. It sounds more convenient than what we have now, and definitely “greener”.

There is a company doing something like this right now, I would love to hear the government consider something like this.

“P” Party

Just got a call from one of my best friends, Paul, a minute ago, and he shared with me something interesting… well let me back up.

Around my sophomore or junior year at George Mason University, Paul and I were bored and decided to go shopping at the grocery store. While we were there we started picking out random items like pretzel rods, pickles, pizza. We made the connection that they started with a “P” and started thinking of all the awesome food that starts with a “P”; popcorn, peanut butter, pie… (go ahead think about it). We decided right then we were going to have a “P” party and started calling up all our friends in Cru, a Christian Organization on Campus, to meet us at a friend’s dorm with some food to share that started with a “P.” An hour later we had a party going that lasted into the night.

Eight years later, Paul just called me to say he talked to someone in Cru at Mason who was planning this year’s “P” Party. I’m kind of amazed. Honestly though, it’s one of the smallest and most irrelevant impacts my friends and I had the honor of making at Mason. I went to school with some amazing people who continue to have an impact on my life and family. Community is a powerful thing.

Last month many of us got together to spend a weekend at the beach, we had 4 kids in between us.

Apple Brought Back the Command Prompt

I feel like Siri is a command prompt designed for someone who’s never used one.

That’s not a knock on it.

1911 – 2011 in Fashion

Great way to illustrate the changes in fashion and dance throughout the past 100 years. via Kottke

Visiting Friends and Meeting New People

Last month I had the pleasure of visiting and hanging out with one of my best friends and his family in Emaus, PA.  I took lots of photos and got to meet their daughter for the first time.  As much as I enjoyed being a kid, I’m loving being a father.  I get really excited to see my friends become fathers too. Amen. Check out some of the other photos we took that weekend on Danielle’s Blog.

National Portrait Gallery Facebook Installation

I love the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. and for the past year I’ve had two ideas for installations–both of which are highly interactive and deal with getting every day people’s photos preserved and displayed in a respectful way.  Much like the idea behind Story Corps, in which they try to captures and share the stories of everyday people, I believe that photos of everyday people are worth recording and sharing in a way that shows respect equally for all people independent of wealth, age, location, background or education.

Human life is amazing, and portraits are a great way to capture part of that feeling.  Our ability to cheaply capture and share portraits of ourselves and nearly every human being on the planet doesn’t need to diminish the impact of admiring the beauty and uniqueness present in every person.  Instead, we should take advantage of how easy it now is to take and share portraits to both gather and record a snapshot of human history and to enhance our own cultural value and respect for all human life.

Facebook is now the number one place in the world to share and view portraits of people.  I’m confident that there are more pictures of more people than ever before in history on Facebook, but it seems like just an after thought.  Imagine giving profile pictures the dignity of being shown in world renown gallery, separate from all of the distracting ads and status updates usually associated with them.  On Facebook people are a commodity that we collect, easily dismissed, but stripped of that commodity mentality and displayed respectfully you begin to think more about them as a person and perhaps begin to imagine their story–I do.

Well, my idea is to create an interactive digital installation at the National Portrait Gallery where people can connect with Facebook and submit a photo of themselves to be recorded and displayed on a large digital frame in the gallery, along side some of the best portraits in the world.  Not only is this an interesting idea, I think it has the ability to bring a lot of people into the gallery to see themselves displayed on the wall.  Users could “check in” with their phones when they visit and be moved up in the queue and given a certain timeframe they’d be displayed.  People in the gallery could login into their Facebook via their phone or possible iPad display to add themselves to the installation right then and there. Maybe even see info on the people that are currently displayed, like name, age and city.

This installation would have a big wow factor, garnering lots of news and tech publicity, but I think perhaps it would also help positively reenforce our value and respect for all people, regardless of their status. (Pun intended)


The other idea, was similar, but instead of using Facebook to pull portraits, part of the installation would be to have your portrait taken with a professional setup designed by some famous photographer, perhaps automated by computer.  They idea being, no matter your economic status every person deserves to be viewed in a respectful way.  This would also offer a unique opportunity to preserve photos of everyday people in a very high quality and controlled way.  I believe it would be exciting as a photographer to be a part of the recording of thousands of people’s portraits–designing the look and lighting of a massive collection of portraits.  One publicity stunt could allow users to tag their portrait on Facebook. Anyway, I believe there are great opportunities to reach new audiences with this installation, but perhaps the Facebook installation is easier and more publicity friendly.

Video: Yosemite Climbing

That’s my Boy!

Facebook is the New Publishing Platform

I follow John Gruber like a lot of people out there, which is how I heard of these top design firms Facebook has been aquiring. First it was Sofa, which moved the whole company from Amsterdam to Palo Alto, CA. Then recently Push Pop Press, who was doing exciting and ground breaking things in digital publishing.  People are speculating what Facebook is up to by building an all star team of designers, I have thoughts.

Both these companies had to make large sacrifices to join with Facebook and I don’t think that it was purely for money they choose to do it.  Maybe Sofa was purely for the talent, but I believe Push Pop Press was enticed with a vision to propel their publishing innovations to a new platform.

Despite how beautiful and innovative Push Pop Press was as a publishing platform for books I don’t think publishers were ready for something like it, it required more money and resources to produce at a time when book publishers are getting less.  Facebook however is a different publishing platform than books and magazines. First, it is currently making lots of money, and second, it already takes advantage of the many types of media that Push Pop Press is famously good at integrating and highlighting.  In addition, currently Facebook has the greatest collection of individual publishers and media consumers that has ever existed, us. What a waste to hire Push Pop as just good designers, I think Facebook sold them on the idea of changing platforms and is giving them complete access to change how we publish and consume.  Can you imagine something similar to Flipboard designed by Push Pop Press and fully integrated with Facebook’s massive collection of data on us?

Imagine a dynamic, innovative and beautiful personalized magazine delivered to you everyday.  A table of contents biased on how many of your friends liked it or who recommended it, in fact Facebook could go well beyond your friends and pull from it’s whole community to find content you’ll like based on demographic, likes, or location.  Publishers want your stuff seen? Better start posting the links on Facebook.

This is the future of publishing, I hope that this is what Facebook is investing in.

Graphic Design & Logo Play

A friend of mine recently bought equipment to start a commercial floor cleaning business. This guy’s got some balls having never done this before and with a new wife at home. Still I think he’ll do alright, he’s already gotten a few clients and he grew up with his father co-owning/running a tiling business. However, tonight we were talking and he asked me to ‘like’ his business’ Facebook page–which I was happy to do–but I couldn’t believe how bad the logo and confusing the name was that he had chosen. When I was starting my business it took me weeks to come up with a good and original name. So I told him, and then afterwards I decided to make him a quick alternative. …That said, I don’t normally do this kind of thing so I kinda made it up as I went along and it’s far from perfect. Anyway, here is what I came up with, the before and after.

Originally I was just going to change the name to NOVA Commercial Floor Cleaning but after I saw one of his cool looking cleaners in a photo I thought it would make a great branding icon, of course then the name had to do something to personify it.

I like the bright green and I like that the logo works well in a square crop for social networking.